The mood of Wales on Brexit has changed fundamentally. Welsh Labour needs a leader who reflects that.

A piece in today’s Western Mail by Martin Shipton – the doyen of Welsh political journalists – indicates how polls show that there has been a fundmental change in the Welsh electorate’s mood on Brexit.  In summary, the latest work by Yougov, using a technique known as MRP which has proved to be much more accurate than traditional polling, shows hugely significant results, both across Wales and the UK as a whole.

In particular:

  • Across Wales, only 13 Parliamentary seats would now vote Leave, with 27 backing remain.  The highest Leave votes would be 52.5% in Clwyd South and Aberavon;
  • Every single Parliamentary constituency in Wales would support a People’s Vote.
  • These numbers are consistent with the recent ITV Wales barometer poll that shows that 45% of Welsh electors would vote Remain, compared with 41% voting Leave.

Across the UK as a whole, the polling shows that:

  • All 67 constituencies that returned a Conservative MP with a majority of under 5000 favour a People’s Vote;
  • All of Labour’s top 100 Parliamentary target seats support a People’s Vote, by an average margin of 58% to 42%.

Commenting on these findings in the Western Mail print version, former Yougov president and respected pollster Peter Kellner said:

“Many MPs who are resisiting a People’s Vote risk losing local support.  Yougov’s latest analysis contains warning signs both for Labour MPs representing seats that voted Leave in 2016 – and Conservative MPs with narrow majorities. These figures may even underestimate the support for a new referendum.  They show responses to a general question at a time when nobody knows whether there will be a deal between London and Brussels that wins the support of Parliament.  Other YouGov research suggests that if there is no such deal, support for a public vote will rise significantly. If Parliament faces deadlock over Brexit in the next few weeks, MPs who nail their colours to the anti-referendum mast could be in trouble.  They risk ending up being seen as on the wrong side of the argument by thousands of the local voters whose support they need.”

With the ballot papers about to go out in Welsh Labour’s leadership election, the message here is clear.  There are huge risks for Welsh Labour – as well for the Labour Party across the whole of the UK – in ignoring this shift in opinion; and for Welsh Labour to elect a leader who does not back a People’s Vote, but is happy to back the Westminster Labour party’s line that such a vote should be a last resort if there is no general election, could be a huge mistake.  And if this poll is right, to do so risks making the huge error of putting the bubble of opinion in a certain part of the Labour Party above the clear wish of the Welsh people.

It’s a reminder that Labour needs a leader and a First Minister who will do what Carwyn Jones has always done – who will stand up for Wales, and who will place clear red water between Wales and London, working to ensure that key policy decisions are made in Wales.  I’ve argued before that that candidate is Eluned Morgan, and I remain of that view.  But these results emphasise that electing a candidate who backs further devolution and a People’s Vote is not just the right thing to do, and the thing that best represents the Welsh Labour tradition; it is actually tactically the sensible thing to do as well.

It’s about whether we have a Labour leader and First Minister in Wales who leads for Wales, or follows Westminster.  And this polling shows us just how high the stakes are.

 

 

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